EU calls for maritime safety

Ties with Iran will be affected if Tehran found complicit in tanker attacks

Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides (L) meets with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini during the EU Foreign Affairs Council, in Luxembourg on Monday. — AFP

Luxembourg — EU foreign ministers, who began a one-day meeting in here on Monday, stressed the need for maritime safety in the Gulf region and avoiding any actions that threaten oil tankers.

The ministers also stressed that any Iranian involvement would have direct consequences on relations with them.

Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor Meleșcanu, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said the UN Security Council will meet and that Romania was preparing a text.

He said if there are specific indications of Iran’s involvement on tanker attacks, EU’s relations with it will be affected.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the EU can not be complacent about Iran’s behavior, but any military confrontation will not solve the problem.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok condemned the attacks, stating that “any attack on merchant vessels is unacceptable”.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that Germany is comparing British and US intelligence on the tanker attacks with its own information.

A senior EU official last week said the bloc needed time to analyze the events, insisting this did not mean “that we're convinced or lack conviction” about the US assessment, which included video footage that Washington said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from one of the damaged tankers.

The top official in the EU’s diplomatic service, Helga Schmid, made a whistle-stop tour of the region last week to gather information.

Thursday's attacks took place southeast of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital corridor connecting the energy-rich states of the Middle East to the global market.

Iran, which is struggling with crippling US sanctions, has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact counter measure to any attack by the United States. — Agencies